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December 2017 Referendum

Should LUU campaign for a transition to zero-emission buses in Leeds? - The case For

Diesel and Your Health

  • Diesel engine exhaust causes lung cancer (World Health Organization 2012).
  • Leeds repeatedly breaches air pollution limits (European Commission 2017).
  • Cyclists are especially vulnerable to diesel fumes when cycling behind buses.
  • Pedestrians are also affected on frequent bus routes with little separation between road and sidewalk, like from Headingly to Parkinson steps.
  • Air pollution kills 40,000 people per year in the UK (Royal College of Physicians 2016).


Dr. James Tate (Air Quality Advisor for TfL. Associate Professor at University of Leeds)

With Department for Transport and Leeds City Council investing £180 million in public transport, now is the time to innovate. Instead the plan of the major bus operator in Leeds, First, to buy "clean" diesel buses is disappointing and very short-sighted. Emission control systems deteriorate over time, and do not work well on hilly terrain or in cold temperatures. Leeds city centre is a perfect match for electric vehicles right now.


Dr. Caroline Mullen (Senior Research Fellow at University of Leeds)

Bus fares can be set by regional or local government policy. Manchester for example runs an electric bus fleet in the city centre free of charge.


George (LUU Community Officer)

I don't enjoy breathing when I'm behind a bus.


FAQ (Answered by Dr. James Tate):

Will this increase bus fares? With grants, an electric bus is cheaper over its lifetime than a diesel bus. On top of grants, Leeds City Council is investing £180 million in public transport including bus priority measures and services.

What about hybrid buses? A diesel-hybrid bus doesn't reduce emissions any more than a lightweight bus.

Does this mean current buses will be scrapped early? Yes but diesel buses can be retrofitted with an electric drive-train, which York has been actively doing.

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